In the construction of the two rag rugs I've crocheted, I've used 100% cotton fabric. You can use any fabric of your choice. I'm guessing denim or wool or a wool blend would be more difficult to work with. Jersey or some such softer fabric, like that from t-shirts, would be easier to work with than the 100% cotton. Old sheets would be a good choice as they'd be soft and pliable plus you'd get a lot of mileage (strips) out of them.
The crochet hook I use (in the center of above picture) is a big one. It measures 3/8" in diameter, but has no marking on it as to what regulation size it might be. In the picture, you can see how big it is in comparison to the size of a standard pencil and also as compared to a Size K hook which is the largest one in my set of crochet hooks. I haven't checked it out myself but I'm wondering if a giant hook of this size would be readily available at one of the large fabric or craft stores.
The strips of fabric I use are cut 1-1/2" wide. You can make these strips by marking your fabric with a pencil or pen and then cutting with scissors but using an acrylic ruler, rotary cutter and mat make the job much, much easier and quicker. And you are going to be cutting a LOT of strips.
You can cut your strips from the width of your fabric (usually 42" to 44" wide) or you can cut the strips parallel to the selvage of the fabric. That way if you have a piece of fabric 2 yards long, your strip will be 72" long compared to 40-some inches long. Since you will need to join your strips together, the longer strips mean less piecing.
I join my strips with a 1/4" seam on the sewing machine. This could easily be done by hand using thread and needle but is much faster using a machine.
I've found the strips of fabric are easier to crochet with if I take the time to iron them in half before using.
The above picture possibly shows how the strips are folded and ironed better than the previous one.
You can "fold as you go" when you're crocheting, but I prefer to iron them first.
If you're making a scrappy looking rug (as my demonstration rug will be) it doesn't matter how long the strips of each fabric and color are. If you have a definite color scheme in mind, you'll need enough of one fabric to complete the number of rounds (which will make the width or band of color) desired. It's amazing how fast a strip of fabric will be used up with this crocheting method (big "yarn" and big hook) so don't hesitate to make long chains of fabric.
If you have crocheted before, making one of these rugs will be easy. Only two stitches are required: a chain stitch to start your foundation row and a single crochet for the body of the rug. At the very beginning, a slip knot will be used and your last finishing stitch will be a slip stitch, both very simple.
For those of you who have never crocheted, I think the best way to learn the two stitches would be to watch a YouTube demonstration or check out a book on learning to crochet at your local library showing these simple stitches.
The actual crocheting of the rugs goes very fast. Preparing all the strips . . . not so fast. For this rug, I decided to spend some time today getting a whole bunch of strips ready.
In the next installment of this tutorial, I'll show you how to begin by making the foundation row and then we'll do a few rounds on the start of our oval rag rug.